Blessed are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise! Selah
In The Problem of Pain C.S. Lewis says he would pay any price to remove the doctrine of hell because of its difficulty — to teach, understand, and grasp as reality. A few pages later he reveals the startling reality about hell that is often overlooked:
“I said glibly a moment ago that I would ‘pay any price’ to remove this doctrine. I lied. I could not pay one-thousandth part of the price that God has already paid to remove the fact. And here is the real problem:
“So much mercy, yet still there is hell.”
Heaven and hell, for Lewis, were destinations for courses set in this lifetime. Good people aren’t simply people who are morally superior, but people who have found their life in Christ. Bad people are those who have rejected their greatest good — the love of God.
“Both processes begin even before death,” Lewis said of heaven and hell in The Great Divorce. “The good man’s past begins to change so that his forgiven sins and remembered sorrows take on the quality of Heaven: the bad man’s past already conforms to his badness and is filled only with dreariness.
“And that is why, at the end of all things, when the sun rises here and the twilight turns to blackness down there, the Blessed will say, ‘We have never lived anywhere except in Heaven,’ and the Lost, ‘We were always in Hell.’ And both will speak truly.”
It’s difficult to embrace the reality that present choices have effects that extend beyond our present world. This is one of the chief reasons we need God’s grace every moment of every day.
The cruciform life — of laying down our selfish desires, self-interest, and pride as we follow in humble obedience — requires extraordinary grace and rigorous discipline.
“If Christianity was something we were making up, of course, we could make it easier. But it is not,” Lewis concludes in Mere Christianity. “We cannot compete, in simplicity, with people who are inventing religions. How could we? We are dealing with Fact. Of course anyone can be simple if he has no facts to bother about.”
Father, we pray for your grace on our lives and the lives of those who reject you. Show us your mercy. Use us as instruments of your love so that those around us experience you in profound, even if simple, ways.
Life and Death Apart from God
Part 5 of 5, read more on TheParkForum.org